With You All the Way

by Sharron Campbell,

Certified Meeting Professional, 30 years experience

Planning for placement of signage and banners

A vital component of your set-up instructions is the placement of directional signs to help your attendees find their way and identification signs so they know they have arrived at the right place.  Other types of signage needed might be for sponsorship recognition or to draw attention to an item or to give instructions.  Before you decide on the type of signs to use and the design, check with your service contact at the venue or facility you will be using to see what restrictions exist.  You may find that external or front lobby signage will not be allowed at all, and the type of signs and other display locations may be tightly controlled throughout the building and even in an open outdoor space.  If one type of sign is prohibited, be prepared to consider options that could work as well or better and would meet the building's criteria for display.  Example, if you are not allowed to attach banners to walls or posts, consider feather banners that are lightweight and stand by themselves, or an audio visual graphic or slide that can be displayed in most any size on a wall.     

Think QR codes when designing your signs -
It is recommended that the use of QR codes be incorporated into almost all signage that you design.  A QR (Quick Response) code is “a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) that is readable with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader application that can scan the image of the QR code to display text, contact information, connect to a wireless network, or open a web page in the telephone's browser."  QR codes are easy to create at little or no cost, and they are the wave of the future for unlimited purposes.  Signage and promotional materials can be greatly enhanced by using them.  Most sign companies will create them for you.  If you are a do-it-yourselfer, more on how to create QR codes, make them pretty, and size them properly is available for you in the link below. 

 An UP directional at entrance on lower level

Sample of good graphic to attract attention to a directional sign

Directional Signs -
Keep text to a bare minimum and as large as possible on all signage so it can be seen and comprehended at a glance. 

An effective method for entrances to a building or from a garage is a simple poster size sign with an enlargement of your logo that people will recognize from a distance, the title of the meeting in smaller letters, and a huge arrow pointing to the right direction.   If meetings or functions are being held in multiple rooms, similar signs with the name of the meeting room or function space added to it will suffice when placed in areas where attendees have to make a choice of direction.

Recognition Signs -
Signage that recognizes sponsors or other VIP organizations might be more elaborate and colorful if your budget allows.  Banners can be large and prominently placed, but they can also be very expensive.  If show cards are used, try to place them on either side of the stage or on it.   A PowerPoint projection of a sponsor’s logo on the screen set up for a later presentation or gobos that rotate the logo over the walls inside the room before a program begins can be very effective and fairly inexpensive.

Identification Signs -
Place smaller signs at eye level on easels at the entrance to each meeting or function room identifying the activity to be held there.  Attendees will be looking for either the name of the topic or event or the presenter’s name, so include both.  If the title of the topic is long, abbreviate it!  Keep the text big.  Include the start time and end time if the room is going to be used for more than one program during the day.  Stack the signs for the different programs behind each other on the same easel so they can be rotated easily.  Another example for using this type of identification sign can be good at registration to separate waiting lines into alphabetical sections. 

Instructional Signs -
More text will be required on this type of sign, but attendees will expect it in areas near the on-site office where they might find a large show card displaying the layout of the function space with a “you are here” arrow, or a marquee located at a pickup point for shuttle buses you have scheduled with the hours of operation and a diagram of the route.

Signage Placement -
If your program or event requires use of multiple meeting rooms, function space, and an exhibit hall, it will be necessary to develop a strategic, wayfinding plan that identifies every sign that will be needed, the time it needs to be in place and removed, and a map that illustrates where it is to be placed.  Depending on the size of your conference, this can be a sizable document and an absolutely critical guideline to follow.  The responsibility would ideally be placed in the hands of one of your most reliable staff or volunteers to spearhead and carry through.   If your program is relatively simple but still heavy on signage, a simple spreadsheet may be all you need.  See sample below.

 bluebullet  Sample signage placement spreadsheet.PDF
 bluebullet  Sample signage placement spreadsheet.XLS
 bluebullet  More about creating QR Codes
 bluebullet  Set-up guidelines - how to get started
 bluebullet  View all Planning Helper Topics about meeting and event planning